Summer Knockout

In the first round of this competition, Tynedale’s one and only side was drawn away to Morpeth A. A gallant team of Derek Blair, Jeremy Handley, Alex Ashworth and Phil Taylor made the trip and was put to the sword, Morpeth emerging with a 4-0 win.
So the Tynedale side moved across to the plate competition, where it was drawn away to Tynemouth Warriors. It was the same side that had succumbed to Morpeth, except that Steve Larkin replaced Alex on board 3. Again the Tynedale team was up against it, being outgraded on all boards. However, the plus side was that we gained a handicap of 1.5 points and so needed only 1.5/4 to win the match. Anything less would mean defeat. The line-up was
1. Dave Jarema (156) v Derek Blair (141)
2. Keith Rockett (147) v Jeremy Handley (137)
3. Dave Hair (142) v Steve Larkin (125)
4. Dave Mear (130) v Phil Taylor (125)
Phil was first to finish. The game came down to an even ending, with both sides having a rook and several connected pawns. However, any attempt to press by either side would entail a loss of material and so a draw was agreed.
Next, man of the match Jeremy picked up first one pawn then a second, and when it came down to the endgame, the advantage was decisive and Keith resigned. 1.5/2 and the match was already won!
Steve had had the better of the opening and went a pawn up, but at the expense of an undeveloped queenside, and this posed significant problems for some time. Once they were sorted out, it became apparent that neither side could force a win and a draw was agreed.
Last to finish was the top board where Derek’s offer of a draw was at first turned down and then accepted when it became clear that the position was dead level with no point of weakness on either side.
So Tynedale won the match both over the board (2.5 to 1.5) and on handicap (4 to 1.5) and march into the semi-final. An excellent result for all concerned!

Upcoming events

Sheffield chess congress June 27-29
South Tyne rapidplay Haydon Bridge July 6th
Chester le Street chess congress August 15-17
Harrogate chess congress September 12-14
Northumberland chess congress September 26-28
Scarborough chess congress October 24-26
I have details of all these events if anyone requires further information.

Gilroy update

Now that this event has run its course, here is a brief summary of my part, as an also-ran, in the competition. Eleven of us took part, my grade being the seventh highest. My round one opponent was the highest graded of the lot, Dave Stebbings, on 137. He blundered in a winning position and presented me with my first point. In round two I played Stan Johnson for the second time in two days and for the second time we drew. My next opponent was Jeff Bentham. As with Stan, this was a tough game which ended in a draw. So far so good, but then the rot set in. Chris Smith launched a speculative sacrificial attack against my castled king. I could and should have seen it off but failed to do so and paid the price. Then came a long, hard and – until the final few moves – even game with Bob Heyman, which I lost on time. By now I was out of the running and so received a full point bye in round six. My final opponent was Dave Mear, who nearly swept me off the board in the opening but then lost his way. I gained the initiative but could not find a way of making my advantage decisive, so we agreed a draw. This left me on 3.5/7, which sounds OK, but in terms of games actually played it was 2.5/6, which is less than my minimum 50% target. However, as this event and the South Lakes Congress have shown, getting 50% in events where the grading band is 135 and below is, for me, a tall order. Will I be competing in these two events next year? Who knows. But remember the saying: Hope springs eternal!

Report from the south-western front!

Last weekend I took part in the South Lakeland chess congress at Grange-over-sands. There were five sections and I was entered in the Minor 1 section (135-121). There were 24 competitors and mine was the thirteenth highest grading, so I was pretty much bang in the middle of the field. I took a bye on the Friday night and on Saturday morning had white against Ahmed Abbas (123) from Manchester 3Cs. I played Ahmed in the same tournament two years ago and lost a close game. This time we agreed a draw after 52 moves and a really good, hard and evenly matched game. The afternoon brought black against Ian Blencowe (129) from Gloucester. Ian played really slowly – even slower than me! – which meant that we were one of the last games to finish, even though our game only went to 40 moves. I had a clear positional advantage but was starting to suffer from chess fatigue after over seven hours’ chess that day, and gradually I allowed my advantage to slip away and was obliged to force the draw by perpetual check. Still, 50% so far was OK. Sunday brought white against Nigel Kerby (122) from Bishop Stortford. He turned up 15 minutes late and proceeded to play whirlwind chess, so that by the end of the game he had used an hour (for 15 minutes of which he had been absent) whilst I had used two hours! He outplayed me in the opening, I had the better of the middle game, then he came again in the endgame to checkmate me as my clock fell on something like move 75. It turned out that two years ago his grade had been 160, but he had a high-powered and very demanding job, was working all hours and his grade was in free fall. I certainly felt I had given a good account of myself against a stronger player. And so to the final round, with a win necessary to achieve my 50% target. I had black against Douglas Bromley (123) from Spondon, Derbyshire. This was my poorest game, with a couple of miscalculations each costing me a pawn, which proved decisive. I resigned on move 60 with mate imminent. By now I had played about 14 hours’ chess in two days and my head felt ready to explode, so I made my way home with my tail between my legs! One point out of four was not exactly a glorious result, yet I felt I had learned quite a lot, and I had certainly had four tough games, which is what a congress is all about.